Today’s Flight Plan
Today we’re joined by Tim and Reed from REX Game Studios, famous for their ever-evolving Real Environment Xtreme line of products for Microsoft Flight Simulator (FSX and FS2004), X-Plane and Prepar3D.
These guys make absolutely amazing software. The world of Flight Simulation just wouldn’t be the same without their incredible products.
Get the latest on what they have to offer, what’s coming next, and what their views are on some of the simulators.
Tim Fuchs and Reed Stough of REX Game Studios
Huge thanks to Reed and Tim for joining us on the show today. Thank you for all your efforts, labor, and ingenuity that has helped change this simulation experience! You guys truly rock!
Major thanks to the amazing Angle of Attack Crew for all their hard work over the years. Our team works incredibly hard, and they’re very passionate about what they do.
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Chris: This is AviatorCast episode 26! Punching fog and kissing clouds!
Calling all aviators, pilots and aviation lovers, welcome to AviatorCast, where we close the gap between real aviation and flight simulation. Climb aboard, buckle up and prepare for takeoff. Here’s your host, Chris Palmer!
Chris: Welcome, welcome, welcome aviators. You’ve landed at AviatorCast. My name is Chris Palmer. Whether it’d be foggy weather, clear, thunderstorms, ice, snow, rain, cirrus, stratus, cumulus, I just love to be up there with it all. Of course, not in the dangerous stuff, but amidst a world of white puffy cotton balls, and favorable winds aloft, of course I get there by flying. I am the founder and owner of Angle of Attack, a flight simulation training company which is bringing you this podcast today. AviatorCast is a weekly podcast where we talk about the spirit of the aviator. We believe flying is an art form, one that we have to continually practice and master. This master is gained through a focus on continual learning, human factors, humility, and a commitment to excellence. Each episode of AviatorCast will have a real flight training and flight simulation topics or an interview with an inspirational and influential aviator. Our desire and mission is not only to create awesome aviators, but also bridge the gap between real aviation and flight simulation. Show notes, transcript, community discussion, and links for this episode can be found by simply going to AviatorCast.com.
So welcome to this, the 26th episode of AviatorCast, we have an awesome show for you guys today. First we’re going to get to our review from iTunes. This comes from Ruror from the United States. He says, “One of the very best. Five stars. A great blend of simulation and real life aviation presented in a fun and interesting way. This podcast really bridges the two worlds well, while at the same time emphasizing their differences and similarities.” Thanks for that Ruror, really appreciate it. And if you want to leave a review on iTunes, that is the primary way that people find out about our show, subscribe, and learn more about this great passion for flight simulation, and for real aviation that we have, and it can help them along their way. So today, we have a fantastic episode for you, in this episode we have a hangar talk interview with Tim and Reed from Rex Game studios. Famous for Real Environment Extreme. If you’re serious about flight simulation, as a hobbyist, or a professional pilot, these guys have a product you simply can’t pass up. What they have is a texture and weather generation program that puts shockingly realistic looking weather in to your simulator. There will be many times you can’t tell if this is real or a simulator. It’s that good. I myself am an avid user of their products. We use their products in our video training, and they are also something that I recommend to any person using a flight simulator. So, I don’t want to waste too much time with the details and telling you about how great it is, so let’s jump right in. This is hangar talk with Tim and Reed from Real Environment Extreme.
Now a special hangar talk segment!
Chris: Alright everybody, we are honored to have the team from Real Environment Extreme today, we have Reed and Tim. How are you guys doing?
Tim: Great! How are you?
Chris: Doing fantastic. It’s great to finally catch up with you guys. I know that our listeners are lovers of your product. I’m not sure of anyone that don’t love your product. So, it’s really great to have you guys on the show because you’re industry leaders in flight simulation, and I’m really excited to talk about your products today.
Tim: Thanks for having us.
Chris: So we’re going to go into what you guys do in flight simulation. We’re also going to talk about what your products can do, or are doing for actual flight training. But first, I kind of want to talk about some things outside of that, maybe the core of who you guys are. So, my first big question that I ask every person on hangar talk here is, how did you guys fall in love with aviation?
Reed: Well, Tim, I’ll let you go first on that one.
Tim: No pressure! Well, we’re all… we all grow up. We are all kids at some point in our life, and we all dream about flying and flight. So, of course when I was growing up, we didn’t have computers, and we didn’t have simulations. We had paper airplanes, and our imagination did the trick. That just kind of stuck with me as I was growing up. I kind of got in the field … thrown into the field of aviation. I became a creative director for a major airline, and the perks along with that, I got to fly in the cockpit all the time. I made friends with a lot of pilots, and sit in jump seat with pilots everywhere. I went for years… just dreaming I can be behind those controls. It was one incredible, incredible experience, and that really got me into simulators. Because at the time, it was ‘92-‘93, I don’t remember which Microsoft version was out, but one of my pilot friends turned me on to it and I was just completely hooked since then. So, unfortunately nowadays you’re not able to get into cockpits, and when I share my stories and those experiences in detail with some people, they’re like, just “wow”, incredible. So I got to see what it was like to be a pilot, actually, for a major airline pilot… for years, what a wonderful experience. Taking that into the simulator, and it’s just incredible. So I was hooked ever since then, pretty much. So, that’s kind of my story, in a nutshell.
Chris: Great, great. Love it. Alright, Reed, you’re up!
Reed: Okay. Well, mine was kind of a three-fold attack so to speak. The first aspect of flying was just from a standpoint that I’ve always had an interest in weather, the sky, and the atmosphere, and so forth. And aviation being so closely tied to that, and my uncle, when I was younger, he was in his teens, and early college years, started taking pilot private pilot’s license and lessons. He would share about what he was doing, and the ties to weather and all that, and I got more and more interested in it from that standpoint, and then there was my first vacation with our family down to Florida, and we went on a Boeing 727, and it was just awe inspiring for me, to be able to look out the window, and just see how small things were, and to see, to be up with the clouds right next to you, and to see storms off in the distance, with lightning and just to be a part of that experience, from that time period, those three elements have just grown inside of me more, and more, and more, and I got into flight sim because of that, because it’s expensive, first of all, to fly.
And being a father of seven kids, it’s almost nearly impossible to go and take pilot’s license. But it’s a goal of my life, once my kids get out of the household, is to get a pilot’s license, if I can, if I’m able to at that point, but because it’s just so wonderful to have that kind of freedom that’s up there, and the wonderful thing about flight simulation is you get a little taste of that. Obviously, you’re still tied to a computer so to speak, but it gives you a little bit more of an experience close to that. So that’s where I fell in love with aviation.
Chris: Great. One of the really interesting things that I’m already seeing here in this conversation is that you guys are really passionate about aviation, obviously, yet you didn’t go the route of necessarily becoming a pilot. But that doesn’t mean that you’re not involved with aviation on a day to day basis. What you guys have one, is that you built this company that completely changes the simulator environment, and we’ll get more into the details of what you do, and what your product is. One thing I want to get in to before that, kind of as a transition from how you fell in love with aviation, to what you guys are doing now with Rex Game Studios. What’s your startup story as a company? So how did you guys get together, how did you get in simulation, at what point did you figure out that this is actually a product that someone could need so let’s try to work on it. Tell the listeners about that startup story.
Reed: I’ll go, I’ll take this one. I’ll tell my side, you tell your side. Basically, before I met Tim, I was doing the Weather Maker, weather engine product, and it was really kind of a hobby at first, and then it kind of started taking more and more of an effort on my part to be more, wanting more out of the weather in flight sim. At first I didn’t know that you could do something with that. Then once I learned how to do it, and learned how to manipulate the weather, it’s like I wanted to take it further. During the time that I was getting more and more involved to it, the competition was becoming extremely higher level so to speak, and from a personal standpoint, I knew for me to stay in this market, even though I was not working on it full time like I am now with Rex Game Studios, I knew I was going to have to take it to the next level. I was not the artist, I do not have the artistic ability to see things like others do.
Specifically like Tim does, from the texture standpoint and so forth so I was beginning to look for means in which I could marry weather maker with some kind of texture product so we could make it all one host product, and found Tim, he had shown some of his textures on one of the flight sim forums out there, and basically just said “hey, let’s talk!”, and come to find out, we both lived in Phoenix which made it even better, and we met one time for dinner and started talking about our passions, and our passions for flight sim, and what we want to see happen, and it all kind of started from there. From there it’s just grown, and grown, and grown, and grown, and there has been many times we’ve had our business meetings, we’ve sat back and contemplated where it all started and where we’re at now. It’s just hard to believe it’s gone this long. But also just it’s gone to the point of where it’s at now so, that’s kind of my side of the story.
Chris: Very cool. Sounds like the stars have aligned for you guys, being in the same spot and all that.
Tim: Oh yeah, I was very shocked. I made a software package, oh boy, maybe ten years ago for flight sim 2004. It went really well, it was like one of the most downloaded software for flight simulator. So, I thought I’m doing something kind of cool here. So, I’ll just keep it moving, just keep going, and I got noticed by one of the other high-end developers out there which I teamed up with and things didn’t go too well with that, so I went back on my own and just started showing people, seeing where the interest was, and I really wasn’t thinking it was going to go too big, but after a million views and thousands and thousands of pages of correspondence from people giving feedback, I thought okay, this is getting pretty serious! I knew about Reed, I knew about one of his products he came out with years ago, and I enjoyed it. It was just a different approach than what was out there at the time. So I thought okay, I’m going to give it a shot, just contact him, and see where it goes, so it turns out, as he said, he’s here in the valley and I just couldn’t believe it. So we met, we hit it off really well. And it just took off from there.
Chris: Great. And how long have you guys been in business, how long was it since that first meeting?
Tim: Was it 2006, Reed?
Reed: Yeah, it was 2006.
Tim: It was 2006, 2007. Somewhere around that.
Chris: So right around the time that FSX was in beta testing and ready to come out, right?
Reed: I believe so… No, no, no, I think it is coming out, and I think… well, you know what, I think it was 2007, late 2007 because it was 2008 when we actually came out with the first version of Rex. So, because it took us about a year to bring everything together.
Reed: But, yeah. I mean, the cool thing is we have a lot of interests that are the same too. We are really interested in music… It’s just really weird how it all worked out.
Chris: That’s great.
Tim: Yeah, we just clicked, just totally, totally just clicked.
Chris: And that’s huge I mean, that’s huge in business, just speaking the business, is finding a symbiotic partnership like that, it’s very, very huge to find that, and a lot of people never find that.
Chris: Alright, so, now we kind of know where you guys came from, now we’re going to talk about your flight simulation products. So you just mentioned that you had your first product that came out with FSX. So tell us a little bit about the product line history of what you guys have come out with, and also explain to the listeners what it actually is that you guys have created, and how you differentiate yourselves from other people that may have similar products.
Reed: Well, I guess I’ll go ahead and start, and I think we both can talk about this, because I come from a more of a weather aspect, more of the weather engine aspect, Tim comes from the more texture and artistic aspect of things which I think really makes our product really unique. It’s not just okay, let’s decide to do this and let’s make it happen. We both have a passion in the area that we have, and I think from day 1, that passion has been seen in each of our products that we’ve done and in each growth of that product. That we’ve wanted to not only take flight sim for what it is, but take it to the next level as much as we possibly can and bring more of a realism, as closer to realism as we possibly can, obviously.
Tim: Obviously some big hurdles there.
Reed: But take that, not only from a weather standpoint, and an operations standpoint, but also from a environment, and the feel, and what you’re flying through, and I think both, all those products have exemplified that, and a marriage of those goals really well, and we’ve only tried to improve on those even more, like for example, starting out with Rex 1, when it first came out, it just had a base package with textures which were a cut above anything else that was on the market there. And then we married within that, a basic flight planner as well as a weather engine at the same time.
From that standpoint, we took that in to the FS 2000 fore world, and we took a version of that into the X-Plane world. Being with X-Plane 9, and now we tend to regroup a little bit as a company, and then we improved on that with Rex 2, and took that to the next level by giving the overdrive package out there to our customers which really kind of took the textures that we had, and took a whole new approach to new textures with overdrive, and put it to a new level that’s not been there before, then we improved on the other aspects of understandings that we had with the weather engine, and what we could and could not do and so forth. And then, we decided well, let’s make this even more realistic. Let’s add flight aware integration into Rex Essentials, and let’s make that flight plan, more robust, make it more tightened, and so forth with what we’ve got texture wise.
And then there is a whole new avenue of prepared 3D coming into the picture at that point in time, so with all of that, we were able to put all that in to one package, within Rex Essentials, Rex Essentials Plus, and Overdrive, and so forth.
And really, that project in itself encompassed a lot of our time and effort, bringing that together. Now, we’re moving onto a new face with Rex Direct products, which are completely different in a lot of ways, than what we’ve approached with our previous products, because we’ve learned a lot, what works, what doesn’t work, and so forth. And now we’re putting that in to Rex Direct.
Reed: And, so Tim if you want to add something to that…
Tim: How can I possibly add to that.
Chris: So basically, you guys can correct me, let me kind of sum this up for the listeners. Let me sum this up, basically what you guys have, you said you started in 2007, right?
Chris: Over the years, you’ve released versions of your software for FS2004, and actually it was FSX that was first, and then FS2004, X-Plane prepared. So you have these different versions, now from my understanding, and it kind of evolves with each product that you have which I like, which means that you guys are actually interacting with the community, and changing your product for the better. And also being forward thinking, but the way I define Real Environment Extreme, and kind of the different aspects of that that live within your software is basically you completely change the environment look and feel of the simulator, and in addition to that, you have a software that will give you real world weather, weather depiction based on your own, your own wants and needs, especially coming up with one of the products that we’ll talk about later.
So basically it changes the whole environment, but you guys have done that in a way that is incredibly creative, it’s beautiful, it looks like the real thing, whereas if you compare that to the default simulator, the default simulator which is terrible, they don’t even look like clouds, however, you know instantly if someone has Rex installed because it looks like a real thunderstorm head, or an anvil head, or whatever it is because you’ve taken so much time to make sure that the creative side of that is taken care of. So essentially what you do is, you change the environment, you make it realistic, you make it more immersive, and you make it more believable which is what everyone wants to get after, which is part of the realism thing. So, anything to add to that, the definition of what you guys do? I’m sure I’m missing something there.
Tim: Well, you know, I think with what sets us apart, I’m talking environment texture wise is a lot of our competitors, or most competitors out there, they’re just throwing clouds in. I got a picture of this cloud, I’m going to throw it in, I’m going to take this picture and throw it in. And or even tried instances of just painting textures. You know, we really went out on a limb and have taken groupings of cloud snapshots, and have classified them. And I’m not able to do that, Reed is able to do that, and classify what types of clouds work with each other and what kind of scenarios, weather scenarios. So we’ve actually went and classified tens and tens of thousands of textures, and grouped them together.
So you wouldn’t get a certain cloud type with another certain cloud type with Rex. You’re always going to get something that’s truly compatible in the real world. And again, another thing with our textures is… a lot of people in this day and age are using digital photography. It’s getting better, the technology, but again, you lose a lot of shadow detail, and you lose a lot of highlight detail. We’ve actually went above and beyond that, and used film. Most of our stuff is from film photography, and digitally scanned, so it’s very high resolution, and I see a lot of people say, “oh, it’s too high res.”, and it looks too sharp but really, truly go out in the real world, and look up, man. Look up in the sky.
Chris: Can you not please anybody, I mean you give the higher resolution they want then suddenly they’re complaining.
Tim: Well, we offer the high resolution, but we also offer the same types of clouds as low resolution.
Chris: Yeah, for performance.
Tim: But, I see a lot of people say this in forums, “Oh, Rex looks so unrealistic!”. But did you try all tens of thousands of textures we gave you? Most people open our product, and they click install, and they’re done, they don’t realize that we have thousands upon thousands of choices to go through. I kind of cringe when I see, “Oh, their textures are too sharp.” Well, about half of those textures are actually soft.
Chris: Yeah, I know.
Tim: You haven’t delved into the user manual, or you just haven’t delved with our software enough to realize that this is what we offer. We cover the gamut.
Reed: Well, here’s the other aspect to that too. We’re also dealing, in particular with FSX, I think we’re seeing a lot of great forward movement with prepared 3D, but with FSX, what is this, a 6-7 year platform now.
Reed: Built on old technology, and it’s come a huge way with all the third party add-on developers, but still, in the end when you look at it in the end, we’re having to use the limitations that are there.
Tim: Well, we’ll get into those limitations in what we’re doing.
Reed: Yeah, will watch those.
Tim: Yeah, exactly. And that will be huge. But yeah Reed’s right. We’ve done so much with what we’ve been offered.
Tim: And it’s only going to get better.
Chris: Right. When I mention it to our customers, they say your footage looks absolutely amazing, talking about our training, your footage looks amazing, how do you guys get your simulator to work, what software do you use, and I said it several times, not only on this podcast but in blog posts and things like that, there are some very basic things that you need in this simulator. Things that you cannot live without in your simulator, and you guys are always in the top 2.
Reed: Nice! Thank you.
Chris: It kind of depends on what they need, but always in the top 3 are you guys in ORBX. Almost always. Just because it changes the whole environment, and really the reason I do that, is because regardless of the type of airplane they fly, regardless if they’re a VFR, IFR pilot, if they’re flying some of the popular heavy metal airplanes in flight simulator, regardless of what type of flying you do, you can always take advantage of better weather textures, better ground textures that you guys also offer… water textures. And then on the other side of that is the weather depiction. One of the things I tell people that are interested in simulators right of the bat, because it is just something that they don’t really think about is… yeah, you can get this area here, in our home town, you can load it up in the simulator, the scenery looks absolutely realistic, you can load the real time weather right now, and it will look exactly the same, so it’s really incredible what we can do but you really do need the core software which, I mean you guys, you may as well even not buy a simulator, in my opinion, if you’re not going to have Rex installed. That’s not being biased, that’s just being honest, like in my particular case.
Reed: We agree.
Tim: We thank you. Along with ORBX, and that’s not a plug. It’s just… we enjoy what they’re doing.
Reed: Yeah. They’ve done an incredible job of taking scenery to a new level that’s never been there before.
Chris: And then to see the two mix together. Your stuff, and their stuff is absolutely incredible.
Tim: Yeah. It really does take it to a new level. We do so much testing. Alpha testing and stuff. It’s not uncommon that we’re reinstalling FSX hundreds of times in a year. So the only two things I really, really install is our work and ORBX stuff.
Tim: There’s not really much out there that I need. I mean, apart from all the aircraft developers, they’re my favorites. Yeah.
Chris: Yeah, definitely. That makes sense. One thing I was going to mention a few minutes ago, when you were talking about the thousands of different texture combinations is… kind of my rule of thumb? Just as a tip for you guys listening out there, my rule of thumb is every time I get into the simulator, part of my simulator pre-flight check list, if you will, is I go in and I randomize the textures, and everything until I find something that kind of fits my mood for the day, and then I install those.
Reed: I love that. I love just randomizing our stuff, and just seeing what we get.
Chris: Yeah, it’s great! It works every time. It’s always something different, and makes me feel like in a different part of the world, and I’m flying in a different place, so definitely something I like.
Reed: Exactly. Yeah, it’s kind of a neat idea. We should have like a button. Mood button, you know? “I’m in a dreary mood, let’s pick dreary clouds!”, “I’m in a happy mood!”, you know? You get rainbows. Oh, seriously! I mean, it makes a huge difference. It does, I mean, you don’t think about it, and I think that’s where our passion is, yeah… Could we get in to building aircraft and stuff like that, or building scenery like that?
There’s people that do an excellent job on that and there’s no need for another person to do that. But where are passion is, you’re going to be flying through clouds, you’re going to be flying through weather, and that is such a huge part. And then linking that, you know. We talked about the cloud and the weather, but we don’t talk about those runways, the taxi, we tried to match that, what works well so that when it is a raining environment, that runway looks like it’s wet. It looks like it’s… it works well with that environment altogether.
I mean it’s just a lot of work, there’s been times I’ve sat with Tim, and he hands me a book of fifty pages of stuff, and he’s like “Okay, go through this and match things.” I’m like. “Okay?”. And that’s just cirrus clouds! You can imagine what cumulus, and runways, and all of that stuff is.
Chris: Yeah, definitely. Well, it stands out for sure, and it is something that people obviously really enjoy, because you guys are doing it full time, and you’re on now the fourth version. So I think that’s what I want to get into next, so I want to talk about Rex 4 Direct. Now, I know that you guys are in testing with a couple of these things. Specifically, I think Weather Direct, and Weather Architect you guys are still working on. Tell us about kind of the approach now with this new line of products, and what you guys are after now with this new iteration.
Reed: Well, I think, first of all, we originally sat out, we sat down with all of our products, and decided what were our weaknesses, what were our strengths, how can we make this better? What have our customer feedback been for us? What makes it easier to get products? I’m going to talk from a software standpoint, but I’ll let Tim go in more from his standpoint too, but I think for a software development standpoint, one of the reasons why we broke the products apart is more from a simplicity standpoint, and a rapid upgrade, refresh rate.
One of the things, from our previous prods, because they were large, trying to manage service packs, and upgrades and things that nature made it very complex, and the reality is there’s competition out there, and whether you’ve got more simplified products, I’m not belittling them by any means, but their products might be separated apart.
They’re upgrading on a regular basis, and for us to stay competitive, and stay on the cutting edge, and moving to the next level, we really needed to simplify not the products, but simplify the products from the standpoint of an install aspect, and so that we could stay on top of them and make them better. I mean, even though we’ve released, for example I know you want to talk about Weather Architect, and Weather Direct, even though we’ve released Texture Direct, Texture Direct is not done.
We’ve got plans to expand that product dramatically. Right now, the goal of that product was to allow people the simplicity of getting textures in quickly. One of the biggest complaints that we had with previous versions of REX was how long it took to get textures from the product, in to flight sim, and what people don’t realize is with that product we encrypted all of our textures so you had to go through a decryption process, and if you’re doing all the textures, there’s like a hundred and fifty different, just tropical textures in themselves. So you’re decrypting, you’re now colorizing, you’re now modifying.
We wanted to make that process so much easier and simpler for the user. So that’s why Texture Direct came in to play. So we had that simplified, easy process. Now, is it perfect, is it done? No. Our next phase is now to bring in some editing tools where now you can start to modify some of those water textures, and make them more towards what, you know, some of the things that we had as a part of Rex Essentials back, we want to start bringing some of those tools in now, so you can now modify and enhance those to liking that you have but still keep the simplicity, and the ease that’s there, and make it better. Now, in regards to Weather Architect, Weather Direct, those are two different beasts.
One of the things that has always been a passion on my heart, and I’ve shared it many times with Tim, and the rest of the team, is that I feel that it’s great, and nice, and wonderful to have real weather. But sometimes there’s no weather to really fly in, and you want to fly in thunderstorms, and you want to fly in fog, and you want to be able to create. Well, that’s where Weather Architect comes into place, in the past we had some tools that kind of did something like that, but we really didn’t put a lot of time into that. This tool, we are taking it to a full on, it’s like opening a paint, having a map in front of you, and drawing in any kind of weather you want, anywhere in the world, including in the middle of the oceans, and weather will be there.
The other day, we were doing, well earlier on in some of our testing, I went in and I drew, like within 5 minutes, a hurricane in the middle of the ocean. Well, I got out there with my plane, and I started flying out there in ocean, and boom! Right in the middle of this, a hurricane! And now this past couple of weeks, we’ve added a more robust flight planner aspect to it. It’s not going to be full on, blown flight planner that’s out there, like some of the other third party developers do, but it’s now more robust in a sense that you can just click on the map and the waypoints will automatically show up and everything. You actually set waypoints around the weather so to speak, or if you want to fly a flight plan out towards that hurricane, and back you can do that. I mean, there’s a lot of flexibility with Weather Architect, it’s never been there before, and it doesn’t rely upon station by station so to speak, to do that. It relies on a whole different type of approach so to speak.
And then Weather Direct obviously is more geared towards those who want the more realistic, real weather type of scenarios better, or a more realistic level. We’re bringing in now the GRIB data, upper level winds and temperature data, we’ve been doing a lot of testing with that and we’ve been building a database for over a year now of that data. Actually, we started it back in September of last year, when we started that process, we’re now bringing in, by time we probably release Weather Direct, we will have a lot of that, at least a year or so worth of data in place for that. But that in itself is a totally different approach, we’re looking at data as a totally different way of handling the weather that we’ve done in the past, and we’re working on a new approach altogether.
I don’t know how much I’m going to get into because we’re still in the research and development, and there are some things we can’t do, and can do, but one of our goals that’s been since last time we’ve released a weather engine, was the fact that we need to be more serious in this area, and we need to make sure that we’re accurate, we smooth out processes so that all these common visibilities rapidly changing, or the winds rapidly changing, clouds need to be able to change, popping in and so forth. We’re researching and developing right now a new technology. Basically, the goal of it is to basically replace the weather engine that’s there in FSX, and eventually prepared 3D. And that’s our goal, and I’m not going to promise that right now, but that’s what we’re working on right now. With our latest beta test, with our kind of unit testing, it’s not even beta testing, we’re seeing some incredible results that’s never been done before.
And we’re just excited. Once we get to the point where… you know the kind of interesting thing is, and a lot of people don’t know this, but with a couple of these products, we actually have finished them, and then we decided that this is not good enough. Let’s start over. Basically. And I know that sounds like corporate suicide so to speak, but you almost have to do that in some aspects, because competition is good. It’s tough, it’s a pain in the butt some times, it’d be nice to be the only one out there on the market, but that’s not the reality, and the person that benefits from this is the customer. Because they’re going to get the better product in the end run.
Reed: And it puts us to the place where we’ve got to strive for something better. Well, we think we’re striving in the right place here, and we’re going to be able to produce some unique experiences that have never been out there before.
Reed: So, and all these tied together, even though they’re separate products, we’re building them so that with Weather Architect, you have an interface in Weather Architect where you can control what textures you want to have load and not, and if you want to open up Texture Direct it would read the same thing. So we’re tying all these products together. Because we realize people have choice out there. Some people may not want to use our weather engine, but they want to use our textures. Some people might want to use some other whatever. The fact of the matter is that we’re tying them together so that you still have… like Rex Essentials, and the previous versions of Rex, because they all work together. And even with Weather Architect, you can still load up weather based upon what kind of weather you create. Textures based upon what kind of weather you create.
Chris: Right. Great. Tim, anything to add?
Tim: Well, he covered the gamut, again! Well done, Reed.
Chris: Well, you just sit in the background and be quiet then, and we’ll have a conversation.
Reed: Yeah, well, I feel bad. I feel bad. So… but, yeah, speaking for all of this, I think our heart and passion is to bring more of a realism. We know the frustrations of our customers that are out there, with the limitations that are out there. We’re looking at the ways to go above and beyond limitations, and we believe we are very close to making that happen. But again, we’re not ready to promise that right now, at this point in time, because I’m afraid to say these things, because all of a sudden it goes out there. We don’t want to promise that because it’s still research and development. That’s our goal.
Reed: And we don’t want to push things out there just to push them out there.
Chris: Well it’s great to see some of these aspects of what you guys are dealing with. It sounds like going to the core purposes of Rex 4 Direct, is to get the weather in the simulator faster, but you’re not sacrificing any quality doing that, and also with the addition of Weather Architect which will come out later, is the ability to completely control your weather which is something that I actually want to talk about more later. So, you guys are obviously…
Tim: Well, actually, let me correct it.
Chris: Yeah, sure.
Tim: Weather Architect will be out first.
Chris: Oh, okay.
** Tim: Yes.
** Reed:** Yes.
Chris: But, I’m just clarifying for the customers, at the time of this podcast, Weather Direct, and Weather Architect aren’t actually out yet. Texture Direct is.
Chris: Okay, so you guys are obviously paying attention to what the community needs, you’re evolving your products, the first version was good enough, but it wasn’t good enough for you guys which is great to see that drive in a developer that’s really trying to make a difference. So what are you guys seeing now? What encouraging things are you seeing with some of the platforms that are actively being developed on? Namely, P3D, and X-Plane 10. Can you guys tell us a bit about what your products are doing for those platforms, probably especially P3D just because you kind of mold over into that platform more, I think. Why don’t you just take the floor on that and… tell people about that.
Reed: Well I’m going to be quiet, I’m going to let Tim talk. Well, I tend to be a blabbermouth so…
Tim: Okay. Well, P3D, as we all know is still being developed. It’s continuous. And we are working with Prepar3D on a couple things currently. So we don’t want to talk much about that right now, but we are definitely in the loop and we already know what’s going on with Prepar3D and behind the scenes, and we’re actively developing for that goal. We need to reach both platforms, obviously FSX and Prepar3D together. We definitely see a rise in Prepar3D sales, people are really jumping on to the P3D bandwagon. And it’s understandable. It’s an active platform being developed continuously by a very talented team. They’re doing some really cool stuff, so X-Plane 10, there’s a lot of interest there for us, but to be honest, we haven’t delved into to it too, too much, we’ve gotten to a level where we thought okay, we’re going to move on this, but then when we kind of got set back. There’s a lot of hurdles to get through with X-Plane 10. So I really don’t have much to say about that platform just yet.
Tim: Obviously, as we move forward, we update our forums and websites with our plans, so at that time, it will be unveiled, but just right now, we’re not actively developing for it, we’re just kind of playing out there, and seeing what people are wanting. We don’t get a lot of interest in it just yet. It’s shocking, but we don’t. And again that plays a major role on our goals.
Chris: Right, on our decisions. You don’t want to work on something what people don’t want.
Tim: Yeah, well I mean what we did for X-Plane 9 was awesome. It went really well, but it didn’t do as well as FSX or FS2004 for that matter.
Tim: So, it kind of threw us off. Even then at the time, and it was well before X-Plane 10 was released, so we have reservations, but we’re not shutting it out. We need to continue on what we’re doing now, and get past that point before we make any more assessments in that matter.
Chris: I think that’s wise.
Reed: We have like a business plan that we sit down… quarterly, we go through and re-evaluate what we’re working on, what we should be working on and so forth, and we try to do that at least 2 to 3 years out in advance if we possibly can, and it’s loosely written, because we know the market changes so quickly, and especially lately because there’s rumors here, and rumors there. It’s like somebody is buying this, somebody is doing that to the platforms, and all of a sudden you’re like… it’s kind of an emotional swing of trying to just figure out okay, we should be focusing on this, because now this could be possible going away! Or just stuff like that. It’s just so much craziness right now, in the market, so to speak, we just have to hone down on what we know is working right now, and what our customer’s greatest demands are for, and as a company, we have to do that.
It’s not that we don’t feel that X-Plane is not a viable platform, or is something that is not worth building for. We do see that, it’s just that right now, our efforts as a company, and as a whole… we don’t have 50 developers working force, we don’t even have any close to that. But we have to prioritize what’s the priority of our company, and right now it’ Prepar3D, FSX, and we don’t want to forget about FS2004. There’s still a lot of people still using that platform. That platform has some great benefits to it on the technology that’s there now. And runs exceptionally, I mean I can get incredible frame rates. It’s the most liquid.
Chris: Right, right.
Reed: Those machines that are out there today, so it’s not something that we’re ignoring either, and there’s times we want to go back and re-look at those things.
Chris: I think that sounds reasonable, and I think that it’s important that you guys are focusing on the things that do matter, the things where the masses really are. This is something I think all developers eventually have to explain to their customer base, is “Hey, we need to go where the numbers are, and where people are actually paying money for our products.” And also where our talents most fit in, and where we have the most creative freedom. I think that’s understandable by anyone who just listen to that.
Reed: Yeah, sure.
Chris: So, tell us a little bit about some of the exciting aspects you’re seeing coming from Prepar3D. Maybe some of the details of what weather does in P3D that’s different than what we’ve seen in FSX, because I know that with version 2.2, they just introduced cloud shadows, so kind of some new, cool things coming out, and obviously those are things that I’m sure you guys are passionate about. So, what are some of the things that you’re seeing coming from there that are exciting?
Reed: Well, what we know behind the scenes, we really can’t talk about.
Chris: Of course, yes, of course.
Reed: I mean it’s so early, that the core weather platform, to be honest, is beyond the volumetric fog, beyond the cloud shadows, beyond some of the better control of the visibility, distance visibility, and masking. There’s really not much that has been done thus far, that is out, and with regards to weather platform, there’s not.
Reed: So it started to be so gloomier, but it truly… and of course, beyond the interface itself they’ve done a few stuff here and there. There’s not much yet that’s new.
Chris Well, that’s fine. We’re all plenty happy, but I think even some of those new… I mean, we say, we only have cloud shadows, we only have volumetric fog. Those things are pretty cool. I mean that’s something that we’ve always all wanted.
Reed: Oh, yeah. Oh, of course.
Tim: Oh, yeah. I mean that adds so much more dimension to it, I mean, to see a cloud rolling across the sky, and shadows to be associated with that is so much different. It just blows you away.
Reed: It’s just a sense of depth. You see the depth sense, and your height. Things started becoming more scaled properly. Sometimes in FSX, you know 3000, 5000, “Where am I at?” The trees are oversized, a lot of things they have done really cool. But again, the newer stuff, we just obviously can’t talk about.
Chris: Well, sounds exciting, and a little teaser there. Okay, so we’ve talked a lot about the software that you guys provide, first of all, I don’t know the answer to this actually myself, do you guys have some sort of trial that people can try out, or is it one of those things that they just kind of have to dive in.
Reed: Trial software and all?
Chris: Yeah, yeah.
Reed: We don’t offer any trial software at this point. Yeah, we’ve talked about that back and forth, and at this point we’re not looking to change that philosophy. But you never know. We’re open to whatever happens.
Chris: Really, largely, it’s what you see is what you get too. It’s not like you’re actually getting in with a lot of things, getting the functionality of it, too. I mean, people are going to be convinced even by the visuals that you guys provide with what you do, so I challenge the listeners here to go to RealEnvironmentExtreme.com Check out what these guys do from the visual perspective, and it’s great stuff.
Reed: Or, or…
Chris: Go ahead.
Reed: Or RexDirectExperience.com.
Chris: Yup. I’ve got that down here too in the show notes.
Tim: Yeah. We did that, we have a certain direction we are moving with the newer version products, and we got the domain, and it was well before we really made a plan, so I think a lot of folks are getting confused with the multiple websites, so we’re… what we’re going to be doing next, or what’s in process now, is our web development team is putting together all the websites into kind of 1 which most people have bookmarked as RealEnvironmentExtreme.com, so we’re going to be including all products from here on out on to that site, so people aren’t confused as to what’s what. Before we start incorporating some of the newer on that site, people are like “I didn’t know you had a new product coming out”, or “you guys have already released, and we purchased this”, so we’re starting to tie in everything together into that one domain which is RealEnvironmentExtreme.com
Tim: But we’ll always have the Rex Direct Experience up there, we might be doing something different up there. As our next incarnation of products come out.
Reed:* Well I was just going to jump in and say “can we open up the can of worms about SimAir?”
**Chris: Yeah, go ahead. I didn’t even up that up on the show notes, but I see that everything that you guys have, your Skype logos, all that stuff has sim air on it, so, yeah, I mean, go for that before we even get to the flight training portion because I definitely want to hear about it.
Reed: Yeah, I kind of want to take this opportunity to talk about that because we get a lot of positive and some negative feedback. I understand people where they’re at. Let me just… I kind of want to talk about the history real quick about SimAir. When we first started putting together the plans for SimAir which have changed from our original development aspect our design features that we had way back, when we first started talking about it to even now, originally when we first started talking about it so forth, there was this period of time where we were pushing it and promoting it, and we were in the process of developing it, in the process of doing that also as a company, we were trademarking the name.
Well, there was a much larger game studio that has a lot more money than Rex Game Studios does, and a lot more clout, we won’t mention their names or their initials did not like the idea that we were using the word “sim”, and using just the word “SimAir”. Not that they were going to plan on using that word, but they just did not like the idea, and their lawyers contacted us. And so for a period of time, a rather lengthy period of time, we went back and forth on trying to agree how we would handle this, and the classification and so forth. Which involves a lot of money, a lot of time, and a lot of effort. So therefore, because of that, not knowing whether we were going to be able to go forward with SimAir or not, we had basically shelved it for a while. Which I think in a way…
Tim: Well, a lot of people thought “Oh. They have a legal dispute with a name. What does that do with development?” Well, development has everything to do with it, because if you can’t get to the genre of gaming, under the gaming genre, and getting registered under trademark authority with that name, or 7any other name, you have to basically get approval from them. They’re so big, you really, truly have to get approval from them. Because to move forward, it would be silly for us. If we knew that there is going to be, still, a legal battle. So we kind of shelved it until we got done with the suit, the action. Whatever you want to call it.
Reed: Now, in the meantime of all that happening, we as a company have to continue to maintain our ability to survive, and maintain with what the market is doing, so our efforts in development have been focused on what we’re currently doing, and what we’ve been developing for Rex Direct. I mean Rex Direct just didn’t happen overnight. The textures and so forth they currently are using are not something that was just overnight, that we put together over a few months. That has taken almost a year and a half of putting that together alone. At the same time, we’re not into the third aspect of Weather Direct. We had one version about a year ago, or about a year and a half ago when we started putting together all the direct products, and it was very similar to what Rex Essentials was, and then we decided let’s go a different route. We went a different route, and now we’re going a totally different route with Weather Direct. So even with that, now bringing us back to SimAir, where we’re at at SimAir, I want to make sure everybody understands where we’re at. We are still actively developing on SimAir.
SimAir is not a dead product. Our goals with SimAir have changed over this last three years or so since we originally talked about SimAir. It’s a goal to bring a new type of multiplayer environment to the flight sim community in regards to managing an air carrier, or being a pilot and so forth. All those goals are the same that we’ve talked about, but it’s much more than that, and we are taking it to a level that’s… you know, even with Weather Direct, we are looking for ways to do something that’s never been done before, and to try and bring those together, and relate the products even together. I mean that in itself is a massive undertaking in the back end. Weather Direct because it is a multiplayer program, and it will be multiplayer game, really, in itself.
Technically, you don’t even have to have flight sim to run this game. Because really we look at it as a game, but it is a game that can be used with flight sim, with FSX, with Prepar3D, and even down the road hopefully with X-Plane and so forth. The back end of it in itself is a huge task. We spent over a year just developing the data base for that, and preparing the services, and the servers for that to get it ready, to be able to do that. So it’s in development, we are hoping to… within the latter part of this year, begin to expose more details about it. We’ve been talking about how we will go about doing this because it is a very detailed, and in depth product, but a fun product, and we think it’s going to be a game changer, obviously. I mean, I know everybody says that about their product, but we really think it’s going to be a game changer, and we just don’t want people being discouraged for being tight lipped about it right now, and primarily we’re being tight lipped because we’re focused on developing, and we’re focused on what we need to put together to make it what we want it to be, what our goals are for that product. As well a Weather Direct, we’ve expanded as a company, than what we have before just employee wise, because Tim and I were very heavily involved with the whole support aspect, and we’re still very heavily involved, but we’ve had to pull back from that because we had to really focus on development aspects, and so forth, making sure our team is focused on what it’s doing.
So anyway, long story short, SimAir is not dead. It will happen. I cannot give you a date, I’m not going to give a date, so if you ask, we’re not going to tell you, but do expect within the latter half of this year, we’ll be talking a lot more about it.
Reed: As well as other things.
Chris: Well it sounds like you guys are… you’ve got some excited customers that are asking a lot of questions about it, but good things come to those who wait, right?
Chris: It will all work out in the end. Okay, so I want to talk a little bit, before we close here, about the real world applications of your software. Are you guys seeing any commercial simulators for example, people that actually train pilots using your software in their simulators?
Tim: Hell, we get e-mails all the time.
Reed: We get e-mail correspondence all the time from real world pilots, real world simulators out there. We just had a video posted in our forum, I remember a few weeks back, another very well-known simulator showing using use with Rex. It’s amazing. It’s truly amazing seeing a cockpit, seeing a full-fledged simulator cockpit with visuals that look real. You almost kind of have to do a double take.
Chris: Right, yeah, yeah.
Reed: Yeah, and we constantly get e-mails, with just real world pilots with their own experience and we’re thinking about getting up a page on our website, and just to share those with people, so they really understand that this is what pilots are actually saying. Because it’s… a lot of times you’ll get nasty people in our forums with just nasty comments only to find out they’re really young kids. It’s just the way it is… how unrealistic this is or this… and we try to help along but some people just don’t want to listen, and to hear these kinds of experiences from real world pilots, it’s just crucial to be able to share that with others, and just so that people who aren’t real pilots get to see what real pilots are sensing from the use of our products.
So we’re probably going to go ahead and put up a website page just to kind of share those experiences, with permission of course from these people, so be on a look out for that. I think it’d be really smart to do.
Chris: Yeah. You know, at the end of the day, as a pilot training with a simulator, whether that’s a simulator I have here at home, or whether it’s one at my flight school, just as we do with the hobby in the flight simulation, which is wanting more realism all the time, having that in the cockpit is even more important, when you’re actually learning the real thing. So those visuals are familiar, so you’re immersed into it, so there’s that believability. I think one of the things, as far as actual flight training is the more you can forget that you’re actually using a simulator, the more that experience is going to be beneficial for your actual training.
Chris: So you just forget that I’m in a simulator and you’re just running through a scenario, and you totally forget that it’s not real, and you’re sweating, and I’ve even heard situations where guys come out of the simulator crying because the instructor finally broke them down, so much that they finally gave in. Anyway, so it’s cool to hear that people like you.
Reed: Well, that’s true, I mean you don’t want to be faced with cartoon, a cartoon feel. I mean, that just distracts away from the realism. Again, you’re distracted.
Chris: But, you know, it’s really odd because if you look at the quality of simulators that are out there within the real world training space, you see that these simulators that are FAA approved, or government approved, they do not have the visual aspects down. They do not have the realism that we have and have enjoyed for a long time. Even in a platform like FS2004 years ago, they don’t have that type of visuals. You know, I’ve related this story before, but I went through some training with flight safety, and they kind have a fix based bonanza training there. It was a full cockpit, 180 degree wrap-around, and I remember that we were in Kidder Burrow and we took off, and Long Island is around there and things like that, and the instructor says, “Oh, look how amazing this is! This is absolutely perfect!” Dude, what are you talking about? It’s like flat textures, there’s no auto-gen, there’s no clouds. This is terrible. How could you even say that?
And I didn’t even say that, that was what I was thinking in my mind, and you know, you go back to the customer’s kind of maybe complaining about quality, I find that flight sim customers are much more opinionated than actual pilots. I feel that actual pilots often jump in quite a bit and are just amazed at what they see, so… kind of interesting. But yeah, you know. For those of you who listen to the podcast and you’re using a simulator at home or at your flight school, this is definitely one of those things where you got to get your environment in check especially if you’re using a simulator for instrument training.
You should absolutely, absolutely have Rex installed. There’s zero reason why you shouldn’t, because you get so much use out of it, so much believability of your environment that it just pays off. Alright guys, any other comments before we kind of wrap up this show? Anything you want to tell the listeners?
Reed: Well, just thank you to everyone that’s out there that’s been a part of… as a customer, support to Rex, we greatly appreciate everyone that has purchased Rex in the past, and has contributed ideas, and thoughts, and suggestions. Sometimes patiently, I mean nothing’s every perfect, and we’re grateful. We’re extremely grateful to be able to be in this industry, and hopefully take it to a new level with the new products that are going to be coming out.
We hope we just amaze people, and really please them. Our goal is to please them, and our goal is to bring them to a new level that they’ve never experienced before. We’re really looking forward to the new products that are coming out, and hope we’re able to be successful. I think in our minds, we’ll always be like, “Well, we could probably do better here”, but I really hope this will blow people away. So thank you.
Chris: Great. Tim, anything from you?
Tim: No, same sentiments. I mean, thank you. It’s been a ride, and we’re continuing to push the boundaries and we appreciate your support. Everybody.
Chris: Well, thank you guys so much. You have really made a huge impact on this community, and I can’t say that enough, but I’ve always really appreciated the products that you guys have, and what you’ve done for… just the platform, and the term, the definition of flight simulation, you guys have done such an amazing job creating that environment, and I look forward to every single product that comes out, I saw on your forums last night, looking at some of the kind of the freebies you guys have on there, I’m going to put some links on those, you have some amazing ENB Plus looks that I’m going to download. So you guys are just so involved, I love the business end and what you’re doing too, how committed you are to quality, how committed you are to your customers, and getting their feedback, and improving the product, and not releasing a product when it’s just not right. At the end of the day, it shows, and you guys release high quality stuff, and I just can’t say that enough. So thank you guys.
Tim: Thank you, thank you, for your kind words, very much. So thank you.
Chris: Alright, well, we’ll wrap It up guys we’ll talk again some other time. Thanks.
Reed: Chris, thanks again.
Chris: Alright, so a big thanks go out to Tim and Reed from Real Environment Extreme for joining us today, and telling us more about their products. Now, these guys have always done absolute, top notch quality stuff, and I really can’t say enough for the great software they have, and the great textures that it puts in to your simulator, and I definitely believe that it’s one of the core pieces of software that everyone should have for their simulator.
So you can check these guys out at RealEnvironmentExtreme.com you can also check them out at RexExperience.com I believe it is… actually its RexDirectExperience.com both of those are kind of two different websites that they have, kind of have different information. Check them both out, and I’ll also put links to several of their things in the show notes for this episode which can be found at AviatorCast.com and then just navigate to episode 26, and you’ll find the information there.
So again, huge, huge thanks to Tim and Reed for taking their time out of their obviously busy schedule to be with us on AviatorCast today. It is much appreciated, and we wish them the best in their future endeavors. They will no doubt continue to do a fantastic job.
So that’s it for our hangar talk portion, and now we’re going to wrap this show up. We’d love to hear your thoughts also on AviatorCast. You can truly shape this show and the topics we provide, so take a quick 2-minute survey at Survey.AviatorCast.com.
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